Founded as a response to the increasing dependency on medication and growing burden of lifestyle diseases, ‘medicine-free life’ is a programme that empowers people to take charge of their health.
A two-hour drive from the city of Pune will take you to Serene Eco village, a centre that hosts workshops to empower people to lead a ‘medicine-free life’. The centre is run by Dr Pravin Chordia, a former MBBS, MS surgeon who practiced medicine and ran a clinic for 22 years before he decided to leave his medical practice behind to explore and adopt a medicine-free lifestyle. In 2000, Dr Chordia decided to move away from the city along with his family and reforest a 110-acre piece of land at the foothills of the Sahyadri.
An increasing dependency on medicines and the realisation that a change in one’s lifestyle is the key to a healthy life, is what prompted this move. “We don’t know why we get a simple cold or why our immunity is low. This is band-aid treatment. I got a lot of new insights after moving close to nature” says Dr Chordia. After moving away from the city, he saw an improvement in his health and decided to spread his way of living and thus started Medicine Free Life at Serene Eco Village. Dr Chordia believes that exercise, meditation, organic food and being close to nature is the cure to lifestyle diseases. “Medicine Free Life is not a clinic or a hospital. We only provide guidance to a better lifestyle,” he says. He also swears that after making simple lifestyle changes and living close to nature, he and his family have not taken any medicines in almost 15 years.
Dr Chordia’s work is significant given that in 2016, as many as 61% of deaths were caused due to Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), according to a Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) study titled ‘Lifestyle Diseases: Body Burden’ by. A global study conducted in 2015, also revealed that 2.5 million deaths NCDs were linked to pollution. The study also found that increase in pollution in cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Ranchi have led to rising incidences of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) which include cancer, diabetes, blood pressure and other ailments related to pollution. The World Health Organisation too, attests that the quality of one’s health is contingent on the quality of one’s life.
During the four-day camp at Medicine Free Life participants are guided towards making changes in their lifestyle. “They asked us to stop all the medicines as soon as we reached. I was initially scared but after seeing their diet and exercise plan, I felt relieved. They have studied food and understand what’s best for our body,” says Avinash Madhavrao Marchetvad, participant. “I had taken up this course three-four months ago. Two months later, all my blood reports that previously showed borderline cholesterol were normal again. I have come here with my family to connect with myself and nature,” says Kalpesh Thakkar, another participant.
At the camp, Dr Chordia also conducts theory sessions which help participants understand what to eat, when to eat and the reason behind consuming certain types of food. “We have four days where we teach cardio, strength training, stretching, flexibility and other types of exercise. The theory sessions are different every day and the main focus is to answer queries related to the all that we do at the camp. If they are suffering from an illness, we teach them about how the illness works in our body and how to fix it with changes in lifestyle. There are also sessions about the alkaline lifestyle, Shivambu Chikitsa, why you should not take medicines, side effects of it, about water, about probiotic drinks during the course of four days. The main purpose of these sessions is to empower people to take care of themselves and their family and take responsibility for their health,” says Nikhil Kothari, manager of Serene Eco Village.
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